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December 22, 2013

Volvo S60 steps to higher distinction

Stylish, well poised and possessing an independent, go-it-alone attitude, the Volvo S60 sedan has been a stand-out among automobiles. Updates Volvo introduced with the 2014 version this fall make the trim and capable runner stand out all the more.

For 2014, Volvo “refreshed” the S60. I put that word in quotation marks because it doesn’t say enough about the new juice Volvo pours into this car.

Typically a car company says it “refreshed” a model when it makes some cosmetic changes meant to keep the vehicle current and interesting until its next, five-year, new-generation re-make, when the entire auto is likely to change. But many refreshed cars arrive with changes so minor that only in-the-know enthusiasts, the people who are really paying attention, will notice. Often it’s something like an altered shape for the big, plastic molding around the bumper, headlights and grille, or a new pattern on the seat upholstery, or the addition of a chrome strip here and there, and maybe a new body color to choose.

The refresh on the 2014 Volvo S60 is more than that. The car remains largely the same in all the mechanical components under its skin. It gets some new features and equipment that keep it in the race to employ ever-advancing technology in areas like safety, entertainment and communication. But the most visible and vital aspect of this year’s update is all-new body panels from the windshield forward. That’s a reshaped hood, front fenders, headlights, grille, and that big plastic nose-piece.

Deeper troughs and ridges strake the hood, giving the S60 an attitude of power and progressive motion. Slimmer, more angular headlamps align with a graceful accent fold on the front fenders that manages to be both subtle and prominent at the same time. The new front end looks more elegantly elongated. It also looks sportier, more head-tossing and sassy, due to changes like a wider grille opening and lower intake that spans wide and wraps toward the wheels. Big, 17-inch alloy wheels add to the sparkle.

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